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Lake District looks to the future with ‘driverless’ vehicles

11 May 2018

State-of-the-art self-driving vehicles are being considered as a sustainable transport alternative for the Lake District.

Photo shows the driverless pod demonstrated at Brockhole on Windermere

The Lake District National Park is the first National Park and UNESCO World Heritage Site to take part in such a feasibility study with Westfield Technology Group. It will explore new technologies which will allow people to access the National Park in an environmentally sustainable way, and automated ‘pods’ are being trialled as a potential solution.

The driverless pods, one of which was brought to the Lake District as part of the study, are electric self-driving vehicles, meaning no driver or steering wheel is required. The pods use cutting edge technology, including sensors to detect road conditions and obstacles in the road, to transport people in a safe and environmentally friendly way.

Richard Leafe, Chief Executive at the Lake District National Park said: “We’re constantly looking at new ways to balance the needs and enjoyment of people as they visit and move around the Lake District, whilst being mindful of the impact on the environment.

Driverless pods are a really interesting concept and while this is not necessarily something that will be seen on the Lake District streets soon, it’s vital we explore a range of solutions to sustainable travel.”

In April, a pod was demonstrated on-site at Brockhole on Windermere, giving the public the opportunity to experience the vehicle first-hand. Whilst on-site visitors to Brockhole were asked asked to share their thoughts on this sustainable transport type and whether they feel it will be effective in the Lake District, as part of the feasibility study.

This is an Innovate UK-funded collaborative feasibility study between Westfield Technology Group and the Lake District National Park.

Julian Turner, Westfield Technology Group Chief Executive said: “We’re really excited to be trialling the pods in the Lake District, which is such a popular tourist destination in the UK. Through this project we’re identifying possible routes for the pod and talking to the local community about how we could meet their transport needs. This collaborative effort will allow us to creative a sustainable and accessible transport mode for journeys in the future.”

“We’re particularly looking forward to hearing feedback from the local residents and visitors at Brockhole, as their input into how services can help meet their needs will be invaluable when planning possible routes for the pod to run in this area”

The outcomes of the feasibility study, which is due to end in June, will inform whether this type of transport would be suitable in the Lake District and which routes would be viable for vehicle travel.

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